An environmental inspection team visits a company in Xingtai, Shandong, to inspect if the company has restricted production as required. Image: CFP
Environmental inspectors of China's central government have been given more power and increased importance and are scheduled to cover all provinces.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection will be the second national authority, after the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, to have the power to send inspection teams and hold discussions with provincial leaders.
Fourteen more provinces will be subject to central government inspections this year after a pilot mission was completed in heavily industrialized Hebei province.
Plans for the follow-up inspections are awaiting approval from national authorities. It is not yet clear when they will begin.
Findings from the Hebei inspection disclosed showed many problems, ranging from rapid ecological degradation to ineffective reinforcement of laws and regulations.
Hebei had five of China's 10 cities with the worst air pollution problems in the first quarter of this year, according to survey conducted by the Environment Ministry.
The Environment Ministry has formed a talent pool of more than 120 people devoted to the inspections, and they will be sent randomly to targeted areas. Such inspections will cover all provincial areas every two years, according to Liu Changgen, head of the National Environmental Protection Inspection Office.
The environmental protection inspection teams will prioritize efforts to review how local authorities have met their promises and solved problems the inspectors find, Liu added.